Keeping calm and claying on...
It seems so surreal that Burnish has been closed for almost 2 months now. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and have been staying safe and sane. A lot has happened in the studio since the quarantine began, including firing both new gas kilns for the 1st time, and Jeremy finally moved in to his space at the back of the studio!
I am so appreciative for the BCS community who have continued to stick together to provide emotional and financial support during this difficult time. Below you will find updates on a number of topics including the reopening strategy, access to glaze and materials in the interim, and ways you can support the studio.
Where do we go from here?
Governor Inslee has laid out a 4-phase Safe Start approach to re-opening Washington State. Of course, a community ceramics studio is too much of a weird niche to be specifically listed on any of the information the government provides, so I have decided to follow a blend of the guidance provided for restaurants and retail. While we will continue to be flexible as it all evolves, below is a rough outline of how the phases of reopening the studio will align with the phases of the Safe Start program.
- Phase 1: This is where we are currently. Reopen Studio Drive Through as well as have scheduled appointments for glaze application in the kiln yard - no access to the interior of the studio permitted. More on that process below.
- Phase 2: Regular Open Studio hours by appointment so that we can ensure we keep the number of people in the studio below a certain threshold, and no classes. Some of the wheels and work tables will be removed so the remainder can be spaced 6ft apart. Each person will be responsible for disinfecting their workspace as a part of their clean up process.
- Phase 3: Classes resume, but with a limited number of participants to ensure distancing is still possible. Instructors will be much less hands-on. It is unclear whether there will be unscheduled open studio at this point - we will have to see how it goes during Phase 2. Each person will still be responsible for disinfecting their workspace.
- Phase 4: Back to business as usual, class sizes increase and free flowing open studio resumes. However, you will still need to disinfect your work areas.
How to Support Burnish Through This
So far, we are ok and very fortunate to be able to stay afloat for a while thanks to a bit of government assistance. However, we will need your support as this goes on to ensure we stay in a stable position. I am hoping to avoid a large fundraising campaign since there are so many happening right now, but if you do at some point find you have some extra funds you want to use to help support a small business, below are 2 ways that will always be available to help us out.
Do you have a birthday or other celebration coming up? Ask for a gift certificate to Burnish as your gift! Below is a button that will take you directly to the gift card site. This can also be found in the top header on every page at burnishclaystudio.com. Gift Certificates can be used for future classes, workshops, clay play events, tools, clay, materials, or any of the gorgeous work available in the gallery by any of the Burnish team.
Speaking of buying pottery, another great option to support Burnish would be to buy a piece of my functional ceramics, available in the online gallery at goodearthpots.com. You can filter by artist name and you can also find work by most of our instructors as well as a lot of other local clay artists there. Ann Marie Cooper has done an incredible mountain of work to pivot so quickly from a primarily brick & mortar gallery to a major on-line gallery for over 40 local artists, but there are still pieces in the shop that are not online yet. If you want to see more work by a specific person, you can send an email to email@example.com and they will send you back photos of other work available in the store by any of their artists. They offer curbside pick-up as well as shipping.
Studio Drive Through
Studio Drive Through is a time when anyone can pick up tools, clay, or fired work, and drop off completed projects to be bisque fired through the back gate in the kiln yard. However, orders for clay / tools / underglazes must be submitted a day in advance. No advance notice is required to drop off pieces or pick up fired work. Masks must be worn, and it would be great if you could freshly apply hand sanitizer too.
The times for the Drive Through are changing slightly. So far everyone has shown up in the 1st hour and then Dylan and I are just hanging out for the 2nd half. Given this and to better align the glazing appointment schedules, I am cutting the time down to one hour. If it gets to be too busy then we can expand it back out. I tried to pick convenient times that are accessible for those who are still working too, but if you cannot make it during one of these times then let me know and we can work it out.
New Hours: Saturdays 11:30am - 12:30pm and Wednesdays 4:30pm-5:30pm.
We are going to try out two different ways of getting students and members projects glazed. The primary option is to schedule a 2-hour glaze application appointment where you will have access to a work table, studio glazes, stains, underglazes, and all the associated tools and supplies to glaze your pieces out in the kiln yard. You can also bring greenware to apply studio slips or underglazes to. Everything will get hosed down with bleach between appointments.
The other option is for me to glaze for you, and this should primarily be used by those who are at High Risk or who are an Essential Worker with more exposure and less free time. For your pieces that have already been bisqued you can schedule a video call with me to go through your pots and pick colors (one color per piece). For new work you can also designate a glaze color when you drop pieces off to be bisqued.
You are also welcome to leave pots as bisque at the studio until we reopen.
Please note, this is for BCS students and members with experience applying glaze. If you received a Quarantine Clay Kit and are playing with clay for the 1st time, click here for updated information on how to get your pieces finished.
Thank you for your understanding and support, I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this!
Now stay home, make art, and wash your hands...
Owner / Director / Artist
Burnish Clay Studio
8-Week Classes: We have two adult and 1 teen 8-week classes this session.
4-Week Classes: If your schedule is tight or you just want to try it out for a little bit we have two options. For a more in-depth clay experience you are welcome to sign up for the back to back sessions to make it an 8 week class.
The Journey Began...
We made it through the first week! It has been a roller-coaster, but definitely many more ups than down. It is really hard to put in to words how it feels to see my dream become a reality, and to have so many people come in to look around or use the space. We had classes and a clay play event, members got set up to start making pots, people were able to come in and buy clay and tools without driving all the way to Seattle... Overall it has been so much fun!
Some of the first highlights include:
This week we will have to see how the weather continues to develop as we may need to adjust the schedule to keep everyone safe, but it is definitely a good thing we are closed on Mondays. We do have a sold-out Valentines Date Night, but there are still seats available in the Clay Play with Platters on Saturday with guest artist CJ Carter.
I hope you come on down to the studio soon to check out the gallery show and take a look around our new space! Dylan and I look forward to seeing you here.
Class Registration is NOW OPEN!
While we still have a few more boxes to check with the city for inspections, we are close enough now to open registration for the first round of CLASSES and CLAY PLAY sessions!
Below is a brief highlight of the current offerings. More information is available under the Registration or Membership headings.
RECURRING CLASSES: We are starting with ONE KIDS CLASS and TWO ADULT CLASSES, each with SIX weekly sessions, so we can work the kinks out of the studio. Future classes will be EIGHT weekly sessions. Additional classes will be added for the Spring as current classes fill.
CLAY PLAY: We have FIVE single-session events scheduled in February. Four are geared towards those who want to play with clay without the ongoing commitment of a multi-session class. The fifth Clay Play event is an advanced Skill Drill for those with intermediate/advanced experience to learn and practice a new specific technique.
WEEKEND WORKSHOP: I am thrilled to announce our first weekend workshop scheduled for March 16 & 17 with George Metropoulos McCauley! Information about George and his workshop will be posted in the weeks ahead. Events with this popular clay celebrity are rare and fill quickly so don't delay signing up. In the meantime if you are not following @ghoc1 on Instagram I recommend you do so immediately!
MEMBERSHIPS: There is a dedicated page on the website that lays out the details of the membership program. If you want to use the studio space for independent work, and have enough clay experience that you no longer need instruction, you are invited to apply to be a member by completing the form on the Membership page on the website.
I am so grateful to everyone who has helped us get this far! I also know we have a long way to go until we are a smoothly running operation. I appreciate your ongoing patience as we fine-tune our services and programs. We will continue to ask for your honest feedback and fresh ideas so that we can work together to transform this raw space into a thriving creative community.
I am really looking forward to welcoming you to Burnish Clay Studio!
* I don’t want to jinx it (it’s amazing how superstitious this whole process has made me…) so I must add a disclaimer that if permit/inspection issues force another delay in opening, all registrations will be rescheduled, refunded fully, or (for the recurring classes) refunded on a prorated basis for any dates that must be changed or cancelled.
Tell us what you want!
We are currently refining the programs that are offered at BCS. In order to ensure the studio meets the needs of the community, we are gathering feedback through a series of short surveys.
How did I get here?!
Hi! My name is Heather Hitt and opening Burnish Clay Studio has been my dream for many years. I am new to Bellingham, but this town felt like home the first time I visited. I was delighted to discover that this place that I was falling in love with needed another studio to support an already thriving clay community. It feels like a perfect match. It is thrilling to combine the knowledge and skills I have learned in the corporate environment with my experiences in a variety of studios to facilitate the creation of art.